FAST Assessments replaced the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), which was the previous standardized state assessment used in Florida. FAST assessments include VPK through grade 10 English Language Arts and VPK through grade 8 Mathematics.
A few notable differences between the FSA and FAST include the time it takes to test, the number of times we test per year and the way questions are presented to students.
The new assessment comes with many improved features that are designed to help teachers drive instruction and better understand starting points, progress made throughout the year and the gains students make by the end of the year as it relates to the current state standards.
“The assessments are quite different in nature. The FSA was a “one-size fits all”, summative assessment administered once a year, after one full academic year of learning in a particular subject. Students were provided with the same question and question choices, despite individual capabilities,” said Deanna Guzman, school testing coordinator.
“FAST is designed as a series of computer-adaptive, progress monitoring screenings, three times a school year providing touchpoints where teachers use real-time data to strategically offer their students’ academic support and/or challenge, based on their individual needs,” Guzman added.
The test is adaptive.
Computer Adaptive Tests (CAT) basically means the test is driven by real-time student responses to work to identify student ability.
“In general, if a student gets an answer correct on a computer adaptive test, the next question may challenge the student; however, if a student answers incorrectly, the next question may be somewhat easier,” said Guzman. “It will adapt and provide data to identify the students’ academic understanding. In this case, aligned with the standards.”
This test is similar to the iReady platform students at Northport already use, which has long provided teachers and families with real-time standard-based data along with academic resources to support individual, small-group, and whole class instruction. Northport will continue to utilize the iReady platform so students can view their academic track after each diagnostic to help them build towards proficiency on their own individual path.
It’s more than just a test. It monitors progress, too!
The FAST test will be given 3 times per year per subject matter. The first two tests per subject are solely for progress monitoring and to help teachers drive instruction to support individual student learning towards mastery of the state standards, and the final FAST test will be summative.
“Progress monitoring is important because our students need checkpoints to evaluate and re-evaluate their growth and needs,” said Guzman. “Our students are constantly growing and their needs change as they progress throughout the year. Progress Monitoring provides an opportunity for our students, their families, and the school community to assess “what’s next” and “how do we get there together”? It drives a conversation built on data and support to help our students attain their highest potential.”
Results will be available sooner.
Since the intent is to use scores to meet students where they are to help them advance, the wait time is much less than the FSA.
“Since FAST is administered online, results and data are available much quicker to both the schools and families, as opposed to the FSA,” said Guzman. “This provides both an opportunity for families and schools to immediately hone in on skills students need to be successful in their development throughout the year, from the beginning.”
Parents will be able to view their scores on Skyward as soon as they become available.
Although exact dates have not been scheduled for the district, Northport anticipates testing within these timeframes:
- Progress Monitoring 1: August 22, 2022-September 21, 2022
- Progress Monitoring 2: December 5, 2022-January 27, 2023
- Progress Monitoring 3: May 1, 2023-June 2, 2023
Third through fifth grade on our campus will be testing on Wednesday, August 31
Since FAST assessments are not like a final exam when compared to the FSA, students will be exposed to the process multiple times throughout the year, which could reduce stress and anxiety that comes with testing.
Northport fully believes in our students’ abilities to succeed on any test, and it is important they receive positive reinforcement in and outside of the classroom.
“I believe the best approach to testing is building student confidence and knowing every student can learn,” said Guzman. “There are many layers to this, but most importantly working alongside your child’s teachers as a team to support your child’s academic and emotional growth is the best way to help them prepare.”